I am so happy to be today’s stop on the blog tour for There’s a Rang-tan In My Bedroom by James Sellick & Frann Preston-Gammon, a timely, poignant and powerfully eco-political and educational book.
Though fair warning, I may get a little passionate in this post!!
There’s a Rang-tan In My Bedroom is the book adaptation of the 2018 viral sensation Greenpeace animation that inspired a well-known British company to overhaul their entire own-brand range (and a famously banned advert in the process!) and together millions of people to stop and think of the orangutans before buying products with Palm Oil in it.
The book also has a foreword by Emma Thompson who narrates the poem in the original video and I was so very pleased to find pages at the back explaining the facts and empowering children to demand change meaning this has extensive value across age groups not simply as a bedtime story for the eco-conscious.
A little girl is horrified to find a baby Orangutan in her bedroom, she keeps stealing things, snatching food from her hands and shouting at her, the little girl is upset by the invasion and behaviour of this creature in her home, her safe place….
Until she listens to the Orangutan and hears about the humans in her forest and how they are destroying the habitat, taking food sources away and threatening them all for the hyper-intensive farming of palm oil that deforests the Rainforest and the little girl realises what she is meant to do.
The rhyming couplets are accompanied beautifully with soft and evocative illustrations by illustrator Frann Preston-Gammon that whilst different from the video are clever in that they are gently evocative of emotion and mood, ideal for even the youngest picture book audiences.
Oh Rang-tan in my bedroom, I swear it on the stars…
The future’s not written, but I’ll sure make it ours
Personally, I am beyond delighted to be on the blog tour for this book, as Palm oil Industry related deforestation has been something that has been with me since reading about the issue in my teens causing me to memorably swear off peanut butter and chocolate spreads and buying lots from Lush to save the orangutans.
Of course now I’m older and have struggled first hand to buy ethically (especially within a budget) with the endemic use of palm oil throughout manufacturing for almost everything due to its high-yield.
My desire did not stumble but like Rang-tan points out to the girl in the book, the practicalities of avoiding ‘bad’ palm oil are mind boggling. (Although, it’s important to note that, since my teen horror, some companies such as Ferraro has listened to and collaborated with Greenpeace becoming considered world leaders in switching to, maintaining & supporting a truly sustainable palm oil industry amongst many other ethical projects meaning I finally tasted Nutella again!!)
It really was heartbreaking and heartening in equal measures to have seen devastation and dialogue go mainstream thanks to Iceland’s 2018 banned Christmas advert featuring the Greenpeace video bringing the toll of the palm oil in everyday products to the forefront with its impact being seen through the experience of a young girl and a baby chimpanzee.
And so much more so to see Hachette publishing this book interpretation of the video which brings the issue into young minds for the future BUT without blame or shame to the child, more encouraging action and conviction.
The video and the book are exceedingly clever for this gentle approach with playful yet soft illustrations and the comparison of the lives of a baby orangutan with a small human child with of course the message that the ape’s home is being destroyed to rather frivolously stock the home of the human, and highlights the grassroots choices that can be made and the bigger ideological changes that need to take place.
It is a clever balance to reveal the gut wrenching ecological disaster without scaring or judging the audience and their families for their choices (informed or not), but making it clear something must change if we want to save the Orangutans.
But if not now, then when?
To me, despite all the current logistical issues in the publishing and book selling industries it is now that is the perfect time for this book. The video and advert whipped up all sorts of fury and adults pledging to change their habits and whilst many still have kept up their efforts, it reminds of the reasons and bolsters convictions that propels long term change.
This book will hopefully remind families of those feelings and perhaps inspire a little pester-power from children to choose Palm Oil free or certified sustainable Palm oil products only.
This book is about saving the orangutans and the rainforest because humans are cutting down their trees!
Rang-tan gets into the girl’s bedroom, steals her food and shouts at her just like people have done to her!!
This book tells us to not cut the trees down and to write letters to ask chocolate companies to not cut down the rainforest for their sweets.Littlefae
However, as I said if not now, when? as the current coronavirus crisis has seen world pollution levels drop dramatically, wildlife returning to previously lost territory such as the flamingos in Mumbai (not the Welsh goats!!!) showing that the capacity to change and live in a more nature-respectful and symbiotic way does exist, but we need thinkers and voices to find, highlight and lead the ways to make this happen, and a powerful place to start is with the thinkers and voices of the future.
I like to hope that this book may have a hand in that for future generations, changing minds one step at a time.
Thank you so much to the creators, contributors and Hachette for letting me help celebrate this beautiful and empowering book that whilst exploring a sad human made disaster offers the potential and encouragement for young humans to make change.
Please make sure you stop off on the other blog tour posts!!!!
There’s a Rang-tan in my Bedroom by James Sellick & Frann Preston-Gammon Foreword by Emma Thompson is published by Hachette